cover image The Secret of the Tattered Shoes (One Story, Many Voices)

The Secret of the Tattered Shoes (One Story, Many Voices)

Jackie Morris, illus. by Ehsan Abdollahi. Tiny Owl, $17.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-910328-37-8

The glitter of the tale of 12 dancing princesses gains deeper luster in Morris’s deft retelling. The hero, a white soldier “weary from war... troubled by all that he had seen and much that he had done,” meets a woman in the wood who “brimmed with light and life.” She tells him of the conundrum of the princesses’ tattered shoes, suggests that he try to solve it (“Failure is punished by death”), and gives him “a cloak, mysterious as twilight” that will make him invisible. After he discovers the multi-ethnic sisters’ secret, he tells the king, “When I watched your daughters dance in the enchanted ballroom, so beautiful, it warmed my heart to see such love. But how that love was won, and at what a price, made my heart sore. So many died to keep their secret.” Spurning the princesses, he returns to the woman in the wood. Abdollahi’s angular, collage-like illustrations use rich color accented with gold to conjure enchanted fairy tale realms. Ages 5–8. (Nov.)